Lots of commentary today in forums, news sites, and blogs, on the comments made by Greg Canessa, reported as "trash talking".  I'm probably just cranky because of the officials in yesterday's SuperBowl, but I feel a rant coming on... 

 

I have to admit, I was a bit surprised when I first saw read the headline and summary from Next Generation, Xbox Live Arcade GM Jabs Nintendo, Sony.  I’m willing to bet that nearly everyone reading this blog (or for that matter purchasing an Xbox) grew up playing Nintendo games.  I still have a drawer full of Super Nintendo and Nintendo 64 games that my kids pull out every now and then.  Of course they spend the vast majority of their time playing the Xbox or Xbox 360, but I bet if I could count the hours I spent with Donkey Kong or Super Mario in my current Gamerscore, it wouldn’t be quite so anemic. 

 

So what did Greg Canessa mean when he said "A lot of those Nintendo games, you know, aren't gonna hold up”?  I haven't spoken to Greg, so I can't be sure, but I wonder if this is a classic case of taking a quote out of context.  Before you accuse me of being a spin-doctoring, robot-loving, corporate shill, take a look at the original story, and see it in context.  From Next-Gen's story, Greg Canessa says:

"When I look at Nintendo Revolution's retro story, with all due respect to Nintendo, I think it's a small subset of the opportunity here. To be honest with you, a lot of those games are fun in your head when you think, 'Oh, yeah when I was 12, this was really fun,' and you have these great nostalgic reasons to play them. Then you do play them, and they're just not very fun anymore. But, there are some games like Joust or Gauntlet or Pac-Man that are as fun today as they were back then.

 

"A lot of those Nintendo games, you know, aren't gonna hold up."

Then, look at the headline and summary:

Xbox Live Arcade GM Jabs Nintendo, Sony
Xbox Live Arcade group manager Greg Canessa (pictured) tells Next Generation that retro downloadable Nintendo games "won't hold up", and as far as a Sony online service goes... "good luck".

First of all, GM commonly is an abbreviation for General Manager, not Group Manager.  At Microsoft, general managers control businesses, and are considered to be near the rank of VP.  Group managers control groups, usually 3-7 employees.  Like Greg, I’m a group manager. I work for a director, who works for a VP.  Using GM in the headline sends the wrong impression about the subject of the article.  Note how when it was picked up by Joystiq, they call him XBLA Chief, and Kotaku calls him "Xbox Live Arcade GM" (in fact calling him General Manager in the lead paragraph).

 

Take a look at the summary.  The context of the story is comparing Nintendo’s future Virtual Console with Xbox Live Arcade, and how classic games are just a subset of what we’re doing online, but the summary implies that Greg is dismissing the entire back catalog of Nintendo games.  Greg is really only commenting about the gameplay in some of those classic games.  He’s clear to state that some Nintendo retro games won’t be as fun as you think they might be, once you play them.

 

In an article on Classic Gaming, gamers comment on “Happy Sappy Delusion Syndrome,” which occurs “when you play a game that was really cool to you as a kid (or younger adult) and... well... now it doesn't seem as cool anymore.”  My favorite arcade games when I was a kid included Asteroids, Tempest, Missile Command, and BattleZone. When I bought the classics repackaged for the Xbox, I was surprised at how well they recreated the old games.  I was equally surprised at how soon I lost interest.  Nostalgia aside, you just can’t beat Geometry Wars with a wireless controller, in 62” HDTV, and 5.1 surround sound.  I think that’s what Greg was saying: a lot of those Nintendo games aren’t going to hold up to newer arcade games. 

 

For the record, folks up and down the hallway here at Microsoft have a healthy respect for our competitors.  Like the man said, “Dude, we’re all gamers just like you.”  Many of us carry around iPods and buy our kids (or ourselves) Gameboys.  We might have Sony TVs, or (gasp) perhaps even a PS2 at home.  Nobody’s naive enough to think that Nintendo is out of the race, or Sony isn’t capable of making an online service.  But I think we all really believe that the Xbox 360 is the best platform with the best software and services.  We’re passionate about what we do, and we’re inclined to speak up when challenged.  If we weren't, we might be in the same boat as ex-Sony Online employee, Josh Robinson...

 

I expect that in the months ahead, you will see more rhetoric and “positioning,” and it’s likely to get nasty as our competition gets closer to launching their systems.  With only one next generation system in the market, the only thing you can compare the Xbox 360 to is what’s been promised by Nintendo or Sony, and there’s not a lot to go on yet.  Until our competitors actually launch their systems, and gamers get a chance to play games on them, everyone should be a bit skeptical about rumors, sound bites, or one sentence quips by executives.  At the very least, read the rest of the story...